by Jayden Lukas
Another year of hearts and loving notes passed between love struck students is upon us. Even the paintings are getting into the act as we are fast approaching February the fourteenth or Valentine’s Day. It is a bewitching and at times bewildering holiday. How did this day of love get started anyway? That is what I am here to answer.
This holiday is actually far older than one might imagine. Valentine’s Day has its roots in the Ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia that took place in mid-February. This festival was a celebration for the coming of spring and involved different fertility rituals. The rituals involved priests in a cave sacrificing goats and dogs. Something in these rituals was thought to make women in the city more fertile for the coming year. They also had a lottery that paired women off with men. I don’t know about you but getting a date by lottery seems like it might be a pretty risky gamble. The early Christians didn’t agree with this practice so at the end of the fifth century Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with Valentine’s Day.
How did the name Valentine come to be associated with this day? While there were several Christians martyred who were named Valentine, the day most likely got its name from a priest named Valentine who was martyred about 270 CE by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus. The story goes that the priest signed a letter ‘From Your Valentine’ to the daughter of his jailer who he had befriended. There are also stories that he had cured the daughter’s blindness. This is where history can get tricky since there are also accounts saying that it was St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, that is who the holiday is named for. There is a story told that St. Valentine defied the emperor and married couples in secret to keep the husbands from having to go to war. Regardless of which saint lent their name to the holiday, this is how the feast day came to be associated with love.
With a history rooted in antiquity, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that has stood the test of time. Ever since those early days the day of Love has been celebrated and lauded as a time for telling those we care about just how much they mean to us. Everybody likes to receive a Valentine and to know that they matter and are important to someone else. So who will be your Valentine and your date to the Hearty Party?